For our intermittent series on writing, here's a remark by the great Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood. It's from a piece she did a few years ago for the Washington Post:
What is writing for? Writers – unlike dentists, bricklayers and other practical folk – are always being asked why they do what they do; asked, in effect, to prove their usefulness. It's an odd question, because language and mathematics are the two most potent and useful tools human beings have ever invented. Sometimes, as a writer, you forget this. You can get stuck; you can start believing in your own superfluity...Update: Daniel Hartley has posted an incisive response to this quote.